Toyota sharpened their pricing pencils for the Echo in 2003 and the result has seen Toyota's small car for the world become a popular choice with female buyers and empty nesters.
The Echo was originally launched in sedan and hatch versions although the Yaris (launched in 2005) has only been sold as a three-door and five-door hatchback.
Toyota's engines have always been excellent - both the 1.3-litre and 1.5-litre powerplants in the Echo/Yaris lineup are zippy and economical. If the budget can stretch to the 80kW/141Nm 1.5-litre that is a more lively proposition.
Fuel economy is as low as 6.0 l/100kms.
The hip, contemporary styling has always been the headline act for both the Echo and the Yaris - a result of their creation in Toyota's European styling headquarters.
Same story inside where the design team took the high waist and relatively high roofline on-board to deliver a pleasantly spacious and airy cabin with surprising space. Four adults can be accommodated with relative ease and comfort - particularly in the five-door models.
We like the futuristic center-mounted instruments and digital speedo although some have been critical…but people thought the earth was flat for years too!
On the road, both Echo and Yaris are pleasant and easy to drive. Both the five-speed manual and four-speed automatic transmissions are well-matched to the engine, allowing for brisk acceleration when merging on the freeway and a degree of refinement when cruising. Parking is a breeze thanks to a small 9.8 metre turning circle.
We would certainly recommend a used Echo/Yaris for female buyers or as a second car for growing families.
Buying a used Echo/Yaris makes sense - the Toyota badge guarantees excellent production quality. Most will have been used by female buyers or empty nesters but do be careful as some have been used commercially by couriers.